Wednesday, April 17, 2013
I remember in the 1970's when I was first looking to buy an SLR that the Canon F1 was the professional camera while the FTb was for the amateur or for use as a backup camera. Without a doubt a lot of Canon F1s were sold to professionals, and I imagine that a large number were sold to people like myself who had no real aspiration to become a professional. I do think that I fell somewhat for the allure of thinking that top of the line equipment would make me a better photographer. I have never regretted buying the F1, however there is little that I have done with the F1 over the years that I couldn't have done with the FTb.
A lot of the difference in expense with the two cameras has to do with the use of more durable materials for the F1. For example, the F1 has a titanium shutter whereas the FTb has a rubberized silk shutter. Overall the F1 was made to stand up to heavy use and hazardous conditions and that costs more. Most of us are never going to subject a camera to the kind of use that the F1 was built to endure. And the FTb has nothing to be ashamed of concerning toughness. I think it says a lot about the quality of Canon products of that era that the FTb was considered an economy camera. If you can get your hands on an FTb I think you will be impressed with its quality look and feel. And by all accounts it is a remarkably durable camera. I have read countless reports of people using the FTb for decades with no complaints.
Anyway my point in comparing the F1 and the FTb is that many times we pay for professional equipment when the lower priced models may serve our needs just as well. I think that may be more true in the digital age where I don't think that current cameras will have anything like the lifespan of an F1 or FTb. At least if you payed for more camera than you needed in the 1970's you could still count on it for decades of use. I don't think that will happen with today's digital cameras.
Now the FTb also lacked a lot of the features and options of the F1. Still it has everything that I would need most of the time. And it does have useful features like mirror lock-up and a nice depth of field preview that many cameras in its class lack. I haven't checked out how well its exposure meter works since I find it easier to use a hand-held meter than to mess with battery issues.
I have only recently gotten first-hand experience with the FTb. I just happened to come across a nice looking FTb body for a good price on Ebay. I actually didn't expect to be so impressed with this camera. My thinking mostly was that I should at least have one of what as become one of the iconic Canons.
Canon FTb Gallery
Here are some of the details for the FTb.
Canon Camera Museum